Rick seemed keenly to understand Halloween was his last full day of being Rick In The World.
He worked on family projects with cheerful, zealous clarity from dark to dark, making clear, complex and courageous decisions, emailing, texting, phone calling. Listening. Considering--creatively and analytically. Questioning. Editing. Focusing. Following through. Resolving.
Anyone who knows Rick recognizes his thought and action algorithm at work here. It is his signature and awesome thought capacity, coupled with an unexpected gentleness in one so wired for problem solving and right action. It's an archaic word perhaps, but Rick truly was a gentleman.
I know he was making things move with his Rick Superpowers right to the end because I was privileged to witness much of it that day, including a 6 p.m. email I received from him 12 hours after we started chatting that morning, noting--with joy!-- a change in a map we were making for a web site: a road was now open, I should recompute travel time.!!!!!!!
In the end, Rick was at risk of becoming an exclamation point. I told him that on Halloween.
He laughed, a kind of silent bray with his head tipped back, then serious again, leveled an intense look and said: "Actually, that could work with this Ghandi-kind of body I have now. The wisdom, I can only wish for... But with this body, maybe standing on a ball, I could be an exclamation point!!!" He laughed again at his own emaciation--and added more and more exclamation points to our correspondence throughout the day.
I did recompute travel time. I sent him the update along with this image of a light-bearing horse to ride to the other side. Rick was always a boy and a man of horses. At 12:23 a.m. on Nov. 1, I received this text from him: Cool!
It was the last thing I heard from Rick, and the eternal thing I will remember him for: Cool!
More exclamation, less pointy-ness. Thanks Rick! May it be so for each of us in the world.
Rick turned 61 years old on September 19 in a loving celebration with friends, family -- including, pictured here -- his sister Pat.
Then there was the majesty of a pink layer cake...brimming with fluted buttercream borders of encircling love. Blessings on this day!
This is a voice montage of Rick and his wife, Carol, sons Alex and Luke, and daughter Kate, sisters Pam and Pat, talking on Friday, September 16, 2016 about family, being, living, dying. And for these few moments excerpted below: Crying.
Rick I like crying now. I didn’t always. The crying didn’t really start until Alex was born (picture to come). Now it seems tears are right under the surface all the time. There's that sense of “Oh geez, here it comes...”—But it’s good. It's telling me that my script is not really in charge. It’s just software running on top of something much deeper.
Luke I like crying.I’ve been been doing some hard crying lately, and I see there is a mindset of crying where it is just so immense. The crying now is not like it was when you are little...wails...sobs...convulsions. I was just crying. I was in this immensity, sitting on my block of wood, and it was so different from the crying when I was younger. Now, there was a joy in it after I cried, and I said, “Wow, that was awesome!” I was opened by it.
Rick Yay, open. Open to the Cathedral, to the sky. That’s the truth. About a year ago I was walking in the John Muir woods after a conference in the area. And I just teared up. It was the Cathedral, all around me, in me…I was alone, so I wasn’t distracted by anything. Strange, but even a good and loving conversation can be a distraction. I was just intensely aware of the Cathedral of life, and that I was a part of it, and could remember that and feel it by my attitude. There you go: it's the Look Up again. There was something about it being just me and the Cathedral that brought the tears.
Carol When my sister died in her 40s, I remember feeling so raw. I remember wondering how people could go about their everyday business and do normal things like plan dinner or go to the grocery store. And I was wondering how we will ever do normal things again. I learned you are never the same, but you can survive it. And I think now how it will be for our kids when their Dad dies. I want them to remember and think of their Dad everyday—and at the same time, to get back to normal. From my perspective as a parent, no one loves our kids more than we do. Even if Rick is not here, they know they are always completely loved. He will be with them everyday.
Kate I know that's true. And I know we will be loved and cared for and feel him. There will be someone to walk me down the aisle....but it won't be my Dad.
Carol I can tell you when Rick's crying time started: it was when that one — (pointing to Alex) — was born, and when you have children, at least for us, everything becomes precious. Just so precious. Of course you cry. The preciousness is so big. I am going to miss so many things about you, Rick, but just having you, your wisdom and your love, being the second person to help parent our children. Rick is so wise. I just wish he’d write down all that wisdom.”
Alex “Like Chapter 10. Should we spank Alex?”
Rick “Not since he’s 25.” And the now weaves tighter. Taut with the bright threads of their joined laughing voices, it fills the Cathedral.